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Facebook to reverse Australia news ban after lawmakers alter bill

Enlarge / Facebook’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters as seen in 2017. (credit: Jason Doiy | Getty Images)

Facebook has apparently emerged victorious from its standoff with the entire nation of Australia, as lawmakers in that country have agreed to amend a proposed law that would have required Facebook to pay publishers for news content linked on its platform.

The social networking giant last week banned all news posts both in and from Australia to protest a bill under discussion in Parliament. Users inside Australia became unable to share news links of any kind from any source, and users outside Australia became unable to share links from Australian media. Facebook at the time argued that the proposed law “fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content.”

Facebook’s ban turned out to be an extremely blunt instrument, blocking sharing not only of news inside Australia but also of public communications from the government, pages for nonprofit organizations and charities, and other Australian organizations that tried to share links to off-Facebook sites. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted Facebook over the ban, saying last week, “We will not be intimidated by BigTech seeking to pressure our Parliament as it votes on our important News Media Bargaining Code.”

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